Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [HRW report] that French authorities raided two camps inhabited by Romanian Roma early Thursday morning and evicted all of the more than 200 residents, leaving them without homes. The same day, 240 Romanian Roma who had been previously evicted from camps were flown from France to Romania. French officials claim the dismantling of the camps was due to unsanitary conditions and "tensions" between the Roma and the local population. They also said that the 240 Roma who were flown back to Romania agreed to do so on a voluntary basis after being paid 300 Euro. HRW European and Central Asia Advocacy Director Veronika Szente Goldston [offical profile], however, believes the raids are "just the latest manifestation of France’s notorious expulsion policy targeting Eastern European Roma." HRW also believes a French immigration law enacted last year targets Eastern European Roma and is in violation of France's obligations under the European Union's (EU) [official website] free movement and human rights standards. Goldston said that "rather than trying to get rid of unwanted Roma while no one is watching, the government should take a critical look at its sorry record in this area, and act to rectify abuses."
France has a history of alleged human rights abuses against its Roma population. In 2010, rights groups challenged [JURIST report] France's collection of DNA samples from Roma migrants, alleging that it was unlawfully subjecting the migrants to this when they had not been arrested or charged. The EU had previously threatened [JURIST report] the country with legal action if it did not follow EU regulations in its treatment of Roma migrants. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] also urged all members [JURIST report] of the EU to stop forcibly deporting Roma migrants for fear that they could face persecution upon their return to Romania. This came after France began considering a new immigration bill [JURIST report], which was later passed, that would make it easier to deport illegal immigrants and take away French citizenship from immigrants accused of a violent crime.